Glee premiered just when I was gearing up to graduate from high school. The first season aired during my freshmen year of college. If only the show had premiered earlier (no, I would not want to have been born later); I think high school would have been a lot more fun with Glee in my life.
High school was sort of rough for me. Unlike McKinley politics, in my school, being a member of the choir or a cast member of the school musical never got branded one a “loser” or a “geek.” In fact, at least from my perspective, many of the more “popular” students in my school were in the choir and the fall play and the spring musical. It was those popular kids who usually got the main roles and the solos, while I was usually left in the background. I loved theatre and I loved to sing…but I was rarely given the opportunity to present whatever talent I had. There isn’t one character from Glee I truly could relate to, but there were bits and pieces of traits from many of the characters that were relevant to my high school experience.
Glee is a show I watched regularly for the last six seasons. I never thought the show was as AMAZING as most viewers did (first couple of seasons), nor do I believe the show ever “jumped the shark.” The show has always been sort of weird and inconsistent. If I was Ryan Murphy, I would have never turned this show into the “musical” it is – or at least not try to cram six manufactured musical performances in one episode. That’s one thing I appreciate about the earlier episodes: the show seemed more interested storytelling than selling covers on iTunes. However, once I sort of accepted the crazy musical it had become, it was easy for me to sit through the rest of the series and just enjoy it for what it is.
Despite all that, I will truly miss this show. Don’t get me wrong. It was time for this show to end. But, I still found myself tearing through this two-hour finale, which I overal found very satisfying. The first hour (“2009”) was interesting to say the least. It was sort of “cut footage” from the pilot. However, it was clear the producers had two hurdles. One) the death of Cory Monteith. So there were a lot of scenes where the characters (Mercedes, Tina, Artie, Rachel, and Kurt) are talking about what Finn is doing…without Finn actually being there. However, Finn was already featured so heavily during the pilot that there wasn’t much else that could have been added to his “orgin story.” The second issue was the fact that, let’s face it, Chris Colfer has seriously developed these last six years. He looks very different from how he looked during the first season. He went from being a short elf to a man. So…it was a bit jarring seeing Colfer try to act like his younger self (the other cast members, who were already in their 20’s when the show premiered did a better job). Otherwise, this was a great episode. I particularly liked the scene between Mercedes and her mother…because…well, we finally got to meet SOMEONE from her family. However, when we finally got to “Don’t Stop Believin’,” that was when I truly felt the most emotional. Glee is always going to have a mixed legacy…but that performance (along with the shots of Puck, Sue, Quinn, Santana, and Mr. Shue looking on) is a high point for the show.
The actual finale was what it was. I can’t help but think it was all a bit too perfect and “fan-service-y.” Sue becoming vice president was a goof, but even that was a little plausible. I didn’t really understand why McKinley had to be turned into a performing arts school, or why there needed to be four glee clubs. Wouldn’t a simple “we promise the glee club isn’t on probation anymore” or “we’ll give you a bigger budget” be enough of an accomplishment for Will? Also, I like how Rachel became a Broadway actress, but her winning a freakin’ Tony was a step too far (although, it gave us that hilarious Anne Hathaway shade so…sort of worth it?) Even Mercedes becoming an opening act for BEYONCE’S WORLD TOUR seemed more random than satisfying (has Mercedes become that successful??) There were definitely ways of making all the glee kids achieve their dreams, but in a realistic and modest way. Sam becoming a Glee club director seemed to be the most modest…and it was nice (even though that should have been Finn…sigh.)
On a personal note, Quinn has always been my favorite character on the show. I think her character has developed (her “up and down and up and down and up” trajectory) in more interesting ways than most of the other characters. In the later seasons, it was always a treat to see her again. I was hoping there would be a bit more closure with her character. Maybe even an update on Beth? (with Idina Menzel coming back?) She had a couple really beautiful scenes with Puck during last season’s “New Directions.” I guess ending up with Puck was her endgame? But their relationship was hardly mentioned here. It’s like Sara Stanley coming back for the Road to Avonlea finale, only to have four lines of dialogue. It’s nice. She already had her “finale” in an earlier episode…but I still wish there had been more for the character. However, these last few seasons, I’ve always felt like Dianna Agron had ambivalent feelings about her time on Glee…so maybe Agron didn’t care.
Despite my reservations on the finale, it was still a powerful hour, and I certainly don’t think it deserves the “D” that it received on The AV Club. The final performance (along with the final song) was perfect and beautiful. But I’ve spent too much time talking about the show. I just wanted to rate the performances! These next few days, I will be counting down the 60 Best Glee Performances of All Time (in my very humble opinion.) For this first post, I will speed through the bottom half. The next post, I will cover 30 through 11. And then finally I will discuss my ten favorite performance from all six seasons. So…let’s do this!
60. “Yesterday” (Love, Love, Love) – The 5th season opened perfectly with a simple solo performance from Rachel.
59. “Take Me or Leave Me” (Comeback) – Who’s the better singer? Rachel or Mercedes? Who cares? – when they give awesome duets like this one. (Even if, yes, if one listens to the actual lyrics, it doesn’t make sense for them to be singing this.)
58. “Singing in the Rain/Umbrella” (The Substitute) – It’s kind of a messy mash up, but between the special effects and the costumes, it’s an enjoyable 3 minutes.
57. “Summer Nights” (Yes/No) – Sam, Mercedes and the gang recreate the famous Grease number.
56. “I Will Always Love You” (Heart) – Considering this episode aired days after Whitney Houston’s death, this was a perfect, sort of impromptu, tribute to the singer.
55. “Take On Me” (Homecoming) – Season 6 started so strongly, especially with the “originals” recreating the original music video for this song.
54. “A Thousand Miles” (The Hurt Locker Part 1) – I am a sucker for this song. That piano melody is iconic. And I was a pretty big Sam and Rachel shipper…until we all remembered Jesse St. James existed.
53. “Let it Go” (Loser Like Me) – Yeah, I’m going to have a lot of Rachel solos on this list. The lyrics for this song are relatively specific to the actions of the movie, so it’s hard to simply “plug” it into any situation (“The cold never bothered me anyway”?). But Rachel sings this so earnestly that…it’s OK.
52. “Honesty” (Movin’ Art) – Artie has the most underrated voice on the show. And I loved when he sang this song to Becky. (Heads up…”Dancing with Myself” does not make this top 60…a choice I regret a little).
51. “Girl on Fire” (Diva) – Probably Santana’s most powerful solo. Here, she decides to leave college and achieve her dreams in New York.
50. “Clarity/Wings” (All or Nothing) – Another heads up, there aren’t too many performances from competing glee clubs (I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything from Vocal Adrenaline). But I love this performance from the Hoosierdaddies…mostly because Jessica Sanchez rocks.
49. “Hung Up” (Diva) – Just a funny performance from our very own (very desperate) Tina Cohen-Chang.
48. “I Know Where I’ve Been” (Transitioning) – Powerful moment on the show (with Unique singing lead) about trans-acceptance.
47. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (I Kissed a Girl) – This performance has definitely a grown on me. Probably Cory Monteith’s most soothing, yet emotional vocal performance. An important moment for Finn and Santana.
46. “I Feel Pretty/Unpretty” (Born this Way) – A poignant mash up between Rachel and Quinn. I know this a favorite for a lot of other fans.
45. “Hey Jude” (Tina in the Sky with Diamonds) – I felt weirdly inspired when, after being “Carrie-d,” Tina, with the rest of the Glee club, walks back to the prom to accept her Prom Queen crown.
44. “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get it)” (Frenemies) – Frenemies is one of the stronger episodes from season 5 (also, it’s pretty hilarious). This, I guess, was the climax of the big Tina/Artie feud over who should be valedictorian.
43. “Brave” (Frenemies) – Yeah, I really like this episode. This is the number Santana and Rachel sing during that photoshoot for Funny Girl. Very nice choreography and costumes on this one.
42. “The Fox” (Puppet Master) – I can hear the groans. I don’t remember anything about this episode…but I remember rewatching this performance on Youtube at least twenty times so…here it is.
41. “Diva” (Diva) – Featuring some very funny costumes, editing, and Darren Criss attitude.
40. “Roots Before Branches” (Goodbye) – Beautiful, sad moment when Finn breaks off the engagement and allows Rachel to go to New York. The whole glee club meets with her at the train station.
39. “It’s All Over” (Asian F) – From Dreamgirls. If Murphy and co. hadn’t wasted “And I am Telling You” on a rehearsal scene during the first season’s “Sectionals,” then it could have been added here as well.
38. “This Time” (Dreams Come True) – I felt a little weird about including performances from the finale on this list so, I couldn’t put this one too high. I think it’s nice Darren Criss wrote this song for Lea Michele. Hopefully, he gets an Emmy nod.
37. “Someday We’ll Be Together” (Dreams Come True) – Mercedes? An opening act for Beyonce? Too much. Nonetheless, the goodbye from her was still emotional.
36. “Happy” (100) – I never liked Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Forget You” as much as others (as evident by her Emmy). But I found “Happy” so much more charming and fun.
35. “Break Free” (Childstar) – I just really liked the costumes and the lighting. Also, Beiste getting a stanza was pretty cool.
34. “Taking Chances” (Preggers) – Back in season 1, there wasn’t a need to crunch 6 over rehearsed full length numbers in one episode. So when Rachel auditioned for the musical with this song, we only heard the final chorus. It’s nice…but I love this cover so much, I wish we had actually heard more.
33. “Sing!” (Duets) – Cute, funny Broadway number by Mike Chang (who could not sing at that time) and Tina Cohen-Chang (who could sing, but was rarely given the opportunity to showcase it). If this number allowed more people to discover A Chorus Line, then this definitely makes my top 40.
32. “Bust Your Windows” (Acafellas) – Remember when Mercedes had a crush on Kurt? Good times. Good times.
31. “Safety Dance” (Dream On) – When this episode first aired, did anyone gasp when Artie suddenly stood up from his wheelchair? What a fake out. But, yes, this performance is awesome.
OK…that took a lot longer than I wanted.
For 30-11, click here.
For my top 10, click here.